Need to know
- We've tested three coffee machines from Kmart's Anko brand: the $89 manual espresso machine, the $59 capsule coffee machine and the $129 semi-automatic coffee machine
- The Kmart Anko manual espresso machine performs comparatively well in our test, outperforming more expensive machines on flavour and consistency, but the pod and semi-automatic coffee machines fail to impress
- We review a wide range of coffee machines at different price points to help you find the best one that suits your needs and budget
Coffee is serious business and if you've decided to invest in a coffee machine for your own home, you may be swayed by some of the cheap options from the Kmart Anko range.
We put three of them to the test in our recent coffee machine reviews: the $89 manual espresso machine, the $59 capsule coffee machine and the $129 semi-automatic coffee machine. And although they're some of the cheapest on offer, none of the models are recommended by our experts.
One of the machines did, however, outperform more expensive models in some tests.
Coffee machines can be a serious investment, so it's natural to be tempted by Kmart's range of cheap coffee machinesCHOICE kitchen expert Kim Gilmour
"Price isn't always an indicator of product quality, and we regularly find many budget brands that perform well in our rigorous lab tests," says CHOICE kitchen expert Kim Gilmour.
"Coffee machines can be a serious investment, so it's natural to be tempted by Kmart's range of cheap coffee machines. But each one has its pros and cons, and on the whole they don't stack up too well compared with many other rival models," she says.
"People on limited budgets may be willing to overlook their mediocre performance in some areas. As with any product, we advise doing your research by reading our reviews before you buy."
Kmart's manual espresso machine outperforms significantly more expensive machines on flavour, but fails to impress in other areas.
This model is not only a bargain at $89 but the CHOICE Expert Rating we gave it isn't far off (and in some cases higher than) what we gave machines that were significantly more expensive. However, it does have its shortcomings and, overall, we couldn't recommend it.
What are the pros?
It beat a $949 competitor (amongst others) on flavour, and it consistently pumped out good, hot coffees, scoring 80% on the consistency of coffee temperature over four consecutive cups. That's the same or better as some other significantly more expensive machines we've tested.
The actual flavour and aftertaste is pretty goodCoffee expert Matthew Gee
In a blind taste test by our coffee taste testers (who are all professional baristas and industry experts), the Kmart machine received a score of 70% on the taste test, compared to the DeLonghi La Specialista which costs $949 and scored 65%.
The taste test takes into account crema colour and thickness, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and aftertaste. "The actual flavour and aftertaste is pretty good," says our CHOICE coffee expert Matthew Gee.
What are the cons?
Before you whip out your wallet, the Kmart Anko manual espresso machine does have its shortcomings, including fewer bells and whistles than other machines. There's no coffee grinder, milk jug or separate tamper included – you use the reverse end of the plastic measuring spoon provided, which can make it trickier to get the perfect tamping pressure.
It also scored the lowest ease of use with 64%. CHOICE test co-ordinator Chantelle Dart says, "The machine is quite light and flimsy, and isn't as easy to use as some of the other models. It's a smaller model (so can't accommodate larger cups) and sits quite low on the bench, so you may have to bend down to see the controls and fit the group handle."
The machine is quite light and flimsy, and isn't as easy to use as some of the other modelsCHOICE test co-ordinator Chantelle Dart
The machine was given a relatively low score on the quality and ease of milk frothing (and was the lowest of the manual machines we've tested).
"The steam wand doesn't extend out as far as it does in other machines, which can make frothing the milk a little trickier," says Chantelle. "You also have to manually stop the coffee delivery – so you can't walk away from the machine while it fills up your cup."
CHOICE member exclusive: Read our full review of the Kmart Anko Manual Espresso Machine.
The Kmart Anko semi-automatic coffee machine still lets you get hands-on with your coffee making but does a bit more of the work for you.
It's easy to operate: you can select from three different pours of coffee at the push of a button and it will switch off automatically at the end of the coffee delivery.
At $179, it doesn't quite have the 'under $100 bargain' appeal of the manual version, and although it's the cheapest semi-automatic model we tested, it didn't perform comparatively well in our tests.
In fact, for just over $100 extra you could pick up a model we recommended.
Kmart's semi-automatic coffee machine did not win over our testers, particularly on its milk frothing capabilities.
On the plus side, Kmart Anko's semi-automatic coffee machine got the same score as the manual machine in our blind taste test (70%), but it lost points for its integrated milk frother, which performed poorly in our test.
Mit says: "The integrated milk frother on this particular Kmart coffee machine is one that's typically found on super-automatic models. We've found these types have issues with dispensing milk, as they tend to splash instead of pour the milk, which creates larger bubbles rather than a smooth consistency."
Our testers also say that the provided plastic tamper is an awkward size so it's difficult to get a reliable and even tamp, which can affect the flavour and consistency of your brew.
CHOICE member exclusive: read our full review of the Kmart Anko Semi-Automatic Coffee Machine.
The Kmart capsule coffee machine also performed poorly in our tests.
It's not uncommon to find cheap capsule coffee machines around the $50–$100 mark, but generally these budget models perform poorly in our tests and rarely get a CHOICE Expert Rating greater than 55%.
This Kmart model, costing just $59, is no exception. Although it's very easy to operate, it performed particularly badly in our blind taste test (by a panel of coffee experts), receiving a taste test score of just 35%.
CHOICE test co-ordinator, Mit Lalich says: "We use all the same Nespresso pods when we test each capsule machine, so it really is down to how the machine extracts the coffee which will affect the resulting flavour, rather than the pod itself."
Some other coffee capsule machines we test from brands such as Nespresso and DeLonghi score around 70–80% on taste test although they do cost around the $200 mark.
CHOICE member exclusive: read our full review of the Kmart Anko Capsule Coffee Machine.